…. on the hottest days of the year.
– Wear a crisp, white, full sleeved salwar kameez to prevent yourself from burning up
– Wear sunglasses and cover your head with the dupatta.
– Put your bottle, lunch, filofax and folders in the back of the auto
– Sling an arm through your handbag
-Realise then that you want to take out your iPod
– Disentangle arm and reach into your bag
– Scramble around the inner recesses of the bag, pulling out sundry papers, nail clippers, wet wipes, wallet and balance them in your lap because you’re at a traffic signal and the light is red.
– Realise that you’re most vulnerable and someone can snatch your wallet
– It doesn’t get to that because the auto starts and you promptly lose ATM slips, food bills (there goes the taxation) and scraps of paper with important numbers as the breeze snatches them out of the auto and they float off to meet their maker(?).
– Finally find your iPod and spend another two minutes unwinding your dupatta, getting the wires in place under the dupatta and winding it back around your head so that no one can snatch it (who said we’re not paranoid?)
– Tuck your dupatta under your shades so that you look like a bandit but spare your face the hot blast after the recent illness and heatstroke.
– Look pleasantly surprised to find music you like on the iPod because you last gave it to a friend and asked him to put new stuff on it because you were sick of your own music.
– Look even more surprised to find that you can identify voices without having heard some of the songs before. Play a happy little game where without looking at the screen you identify James Blunt, Bon Jovi (!), RHCP, John Mayer and Nine Inch Nails (!).
– Groan as the auto driver gets chatty and you realise he is one of those. Take your ear phones out, unwind the dupatta off your mouth and decide it’s your good deed for the day to humour the old man.
– Look at him in shock when he says he is from Calcutta but speaks beautiful unaccented Hindi with lots of Urdu thrown in. And tells you that he goes home once a year for Durga Puja.
– Foolishly ask him if he celebrates it, as you take note of the skull cap on his head and the moon and star and 786 sticker on the windscreen. Feel smaller as he turns to you and says ‘Ishwar Allah, tere naam… Hamare dost aur saathi manaate hain madam, hum bhi manaa lete hain. Yahi to baat hai dost mein.’ (God is one. My friends celebrate it, so I join them. That’s the thing with friendships.)
– Sit back, forgetting the hot blast of air on your face and wait for your call.